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Raiders 2017 Draft Pick or Pass: RB Christian McCaffrey

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Part of one of the deepest running back classes in years, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is impressive in every sense of the word — but could his position eliminate him from Oakland's consideration?

With three defensive players under our belts, it's time to turn to some draft prospects on the offensive side of the ball. Of all the guys in play when Oakland picks, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey might be the most intriguing for a number of reasons.

For starters it's geography — McCaffrey played college ball just down the road in Palo Alto, and so many fans are already familiar with his game. The second intriguing piece with McCaffrey is the position he plays — one which temporarily remains a rather large need in Oakland. Of course, if the Beast-Mode-To-Oakland rumors are accurate, the idea of drafting McCaffrey would be absolute foolishness.

The final thing to like about McCaffrey — should Oakland still have a running back need in a few weeks — is that he seems to be a better version of the two backs Oakland already has. While not a complementary power back, McCaffrey would replace the need for such a player as a three-down, all-purpose running back that would never need to come off the field.

But even with all that said, would Oakland really draft an offensive player in the first round given their glaring needs on the other side of the ball?

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel)

At 5'11" and 202 pounds, Christian McCaffery fits right in with the other top running backs in this year's class — he's taller than Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara, but leaner than both. Of course, nobody compares to LSU's Leonard Fournette (6'0", 240 pounds).

What's interesting about McCaffery, though, is how his combine performance matched up with each of them. Of all the running backs, McCaffery ran the fourth-fastest 40-time (4.48), the best 3-cone drill (6.57), the best 60-yard-shuttle (11.03) and finished in the top-five in both the broad jump and 20-yard-shuttle.

Of course anyone can put together impressive combine numbers, but McCaffrey did that on top of being one of the most productive college players we have seen in a long time. In 2015, he sent the NCAA record for all-purpose yards (3,864) while rushing for over 2,000 yards. He followed that up with 1,639 rushing yards this past season despite battling an injury. Honestly, the more I read about his measurables and accomplishments, the more I realize how insane it is to think that he might be available at No. 24.

With all that said, McCaffrey's problem in my book is something he can't do anything about: he plays offense. For the Raiders to draft anything other than defense in Round 1 (and two) would be unthinkable and indefensible. If you're not going to address your team's greatest need in free agency, then there's no excuse for not committing your draft picks to doing so.

So, sorry Christian, it's nothing personal.

Verdict: PASS

RDreamer (@RaiderDamus)

There's a lot to like about Christian McCaffrey. First, his pedigree. As the son of former Bronco great and noted giraffe-man Ed McCaffrey, Christian surely knows what the NFL life is all about and he's got as good a set of genes as you'll find. Also, drafting him would really piss of Ed McCaffrey, whom I hate. Christian is a superlative athlete who excels in the run game, in the passing attack, and especially on special teams. He's one of the best return men in the draft. McCaffrey is extremely intelligent and graded out athletically as one of the top backs in his class.

But there are also some issues with him.

1) He's white, Normally race has no bearing on football performance, but when's the last time the NFL saw a successful white running back? Mike Alstott? And John Riggins before him? McCaffrey doesn't have a lot to hang his hat on here. Toby Gerhart was a disaster and Danny Woodhead is not an every-down back which is what McCaffrey has to be in order to warrant first-round consideration. McCaffrey will have to become something nobody has seen in decades. He's capable of that, but it won't be easy.

2) He's not really the type of back the Raiders need. Oakland has two pass-catching change of pace backs already in Washington and Richard. What do they need three for? McCaffrey's best use will be in the slot, because he's too athletic and explosive for most safeties or inferior slot corners to contain. But a slot receiver is not worth the 24th pick.

Regardless of my points here, I feel McCaffrey's Combine was so strong that a team who does have need of his skillset will take him well before we get to pick. He would be an asset to a team like Philadephia, Denver or Detroit, and God save us all if the Patriots somehow get him. This draft is chock-full of quality backs and the Raiders have little need to go chasing down a great hope like McCaffrey when they can get better value later on.

Verdict: PASS

Daniel LeBaron (@DTLeBaron)

Christian McCaffrey is one of the more polarizing offensive prospects of the last few seasons. Expert opinion on the Stanford standout varies greatly; some think he's the next great prospect, while others question his ability to remain durable at the next level. Raiders' fans are also in disagreement as many think McCaffrey fits into a similar role as the two young backs the team already has.

McCaffrey isn't in the same league as those two—he's a different animal entirely.

Though DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard performed admirably last season, they don't possess McCaffrey's elite vision or top-end game speed. At 5-11, 202 lbs, McCaffrey won't be a bellcow at the next level, but that's just fine. He should still be able to get 15-25 touches per game when you include rushing, receiving and his work on special teams. I understand that the Raiders need to find someone to bulldoze the ball over the goal line, but if the dynamic and versatile McCaffrey is still sitting there at 24, you make the pick and hammer out the details later. Of course, this all changes if Marshawn Lynch joins the squad.

Verdict: PICK

Levi Damien (@LeviDamien)

Let me just start this out by saying I. Love. Christian. McCaffrey. He is a do-it-all back/weapon and he’s a technician at all of those factors. I also think he’s underrated as a runner between the tackles. That seems to be the area he gets criticism which leads to the Reggie Bush comparisons.

I don’t like that comparison. Bush was more of a receiver who could carry the ball, while McCaffrey is a running back who happens to be outstanding as a receiver. Bush was not an every down back or a workhorse. He was a gimmick player who had electric athletic abilities which made teams want to get the ball in his hands. It’s why he bounced around the league so much as he was seen more as a luxury item than a necessity. McCaffrey is more than that.

All of that said, it’s not his talent, but his position that is an issue for the Raiders. Especially with the talk of adding Marshawn Lynch heating up. But let’s say they don’t add Lynch. Still, the Raiders need defense. A back they like can be found later in the draft.

Verdict: PASS


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